LaFleur, Rodgers proud of Marquez Valdes-Scantling's effort

Packers ‘have all the confidence in the world’ in third-year receiver

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

When the Packers needed a jolt on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was the one often providing a shot of adrenaline to the offense.

It was the third-year receiver's blocking, including a tandem effort with Allen Lazard that helped spring receiver Davante Adams for his NFL-leading 10th receiving touchdown of the season in the second quarter.

It was Valdes-Scantling drawing a 51-yard defensive pass interference penalty on third-and-1 against Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin shortly before halftime, setting up Jamaal Williams's 4-yard touchdown catch one play later.

And it was his 47-yard catch on third-and-10 through triple coverage that pushed the Packers' road matchup with the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium into overtime.

While you can't tell the tale of Sunday's 34-31 loss to the Colts without mentioning the third-year receiver's fumble in OT, the Packers likely wouldn't have been in that position to begin with without Valdes-Scantling's heroics in regulation.

And that was a message an optimistic Green Bay locker room was sending loud and clear in its postgame media availability.

"I was so proud of his effort," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said of Valdes-Scantling. "I know he's really hurting right now. He made so many plays for us and not only in the pass game but in the run game, stuff that you guys probably don't even notice, that we're not getting the yardage that we get if he's not blocking his (butt) off.

"I've got more confidence in him now than probably ever."

As disappointing as it was for everyone on the Packers' sideline to have the game end in that fashion, the reality is the fumble was the fourth and final turnover the Packers committed against the Colts, the most giveaways Green Bay has had this season.

There was a fumbled exchange on the first series of the game. Rodgers also had thrown an interception on the final play of the first quarter. Backup kickoff returner Darrius Shepherd, in for an injured Tyler Ervin, also had a fumble in the fourth quarter.

The Packers avoided giving up points on the first two giveaways but saw the Colts take a 31-28 lead after the fumbled kickoff and then seal their seventh win of the year with a Rodrigo Blankenship 39-yard field goal after the final overtime fumble.

"You lose the turnover(s) 4-2, it's tough to come out on top," LaFleur said. "We knew we were facing a really good football team that does as good a job as anybody that we've seen in terms of punching the ball out."

Coming off a career-high 149 receiving yards in last Sunday's win over Jacksonville, Valdes-Scantling contributed another three catches for 55 yards to the cause in Indianapolis.

Had it not been for Julian Blackmon splitting the blocks of Lazard and tight end Robert Tonyan and punching the ball out of Valdes-Scantling's arms on the Packers' second offensive play of overtime, the 6-foot-4, 206-pound receiver likely would've been seen as one of the reasons Green Bay fended off a valiant second-half rally from the Colts.

Lucas Oil Stadium hosted a Week 11 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020.

Rodgers, who has spoken highly of Valdes-Scantling's growth this year, reiterated that when asked about the final sequence Sunday. It was a sentiment of support echoed by many of his teammates on social media, including safety Adrian Amos, guard Lucas Patrick and Tonyan in the aftermath of his Valdes-Scantling's fumble in 42 career games.

"I have a lot of love for Marquez," Rodgers said. "I see the guy every single day, see how much he cares about it. It happens, unfortunately. A lot of it is fundamentals carrying the ball, but I've had my fair share of fumbles. It was just bad timing obviously.

"That stuff happens. He made a big play at the end of regulation to get us going on third-and-10. Disappointed for him, disappointed for us."

The Packers remain high on the 26-year-old receiver, who has had a resurgent 2020 season. With six regular-season games left, Valdes-Scantling's 25 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns have him on pace for career highs across the board.

As the Packers enter into the final stretch of the regular season, they know Valdes-Scantling is going to be a big part of making a run at not only a division crown but also the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

LaFleur was asked after the game whether he "can live with" Valdes-Scantling. Without hesitation, LaFleur answered in the affirmative. Because, on Sunday, the Packers lost as a team – not because of one specific player.

"I can live with MVS and we're going to continue to live with him and just hope that he can continue to get better and better and better," LaFleur said. "I've got all the confidence in the world in him."

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